Bongi Magubane Connecticut Public Radio
Bongi Magubane Connecticut Public Radio

Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday named Sibongile “Bongi” Magubane, a former information-technology executive at Aetna, as the commissioner of motor vehicles, the department that Lamont once described as a metaphor for what is wrong with government bureaucracy.

“For many residents, the DMV is the face of state government – it is an office that virtually every adult needs to interact with and for far too long it has been overly bureaucratic, arduous, and – quite frankly – operating in the 21st century while relying on 20th century processes,” Lamont said.

The appointment reflects two commitments by Lamont, a former cable entrepreneur with an MBA from Yale: an emphasis on providing residents better online access to their state government, and a commitment to diversity. Magubane, a native of South Africa raised and educated in Connecticut, is the fourth commissioner named since Friday morning. Three are black and one is Hispanic.

Earlier, Lamont nominated a former IBM executive and tech entrepreneur, Josh Geballe, to oversee the Department of Administrative Services, the agency responsible for hiring, contracting and information technology.

Magubane is currently the human relations director for Specialty Transportation, the bus contractor for the public schools in Hartford. But she spent much of her career at Aetna, first from 1979 to 1994, and then from 2000 to 2011.

In addition to Aetna, Magubane worked as a consultant for the information technology company, Keane, between 1998 to 2000 and at Cigna from 1994 to 1998, where the administration says her duties included “maintaining and enhancing capabilities across the company’s billing, banking, and eligibility shared service functions.”

She lives in Hartford, where she recently stepped down as the president of the West End Civic Association.

Three years ago, computer malfunctions and widespread complaints prompted Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to hire Judeen Wrinn, a retired Aetna corporate executive with experience fixing customer service systems, as a trouble-shooter at the DMV.  The department has made progress, with wait times dropping from  76 minutes in November 2015 to 41 minutes in December 2017. But the DMV was an issue during the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, with Republicans calling for its privatization.

Lamont took his own shots at the department while campaigning: “You walk into DMV a Democrat, you leave a Republican.”

On Thursday, he said in a statement that Magubane would bring a new approach.

“We need a fresh approach with this agency – one that prioritizes convenience, ease, and reliability for customers, while also delivering efficiency and cost effectiveness for its administrative needs,” Lamont said. “Bongi has earned a reputation for doing exactly those things for some of our nation’s leading private sector companies. She’s a sharp, solutions-oriented thinker with a strong business acumen who will bring to state government an innovative approach that works to cut red tape and brings to the DMV the solutions that so many residents of our state are demanding.”

Nearly 40 percent of the governor’s department heads are minorities. Lamont has now nominated 14 new department heads and retained 10 commissioners from the Malloy administration. Five of the 14 new appointees are black and one is Hispanic. Of 10 holdovers, two are black and one is Hispanic.

He has yet to nominate leaders for the departments of Social Services and Agriculture. The vacant post of state education commissioner is an indirect appointment, made through the state Board of Education.

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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3 Comments

  1. I truly hope Ms Magubane has the skill and knowledge to transform the CT DMV. I read she has numerous years of experience within Aetna’s Financial Services IT Division. However, this is no detail around her specific title and job responsibilities while holding the position.
    The problems at the CT DMV need a “massive overhaul” both from a systems, process, and procedure perspective. This problems at the CT DMV are huge, and not for the faint of heart, or for anyone who is unwilling to “break glass” to fix it. I wish Ms Magubane the best of luck in her new role at CT DMV, for her and for us!

    1. National search using Prof. Recruiters here ?

      If Gov. Lamont was running a major transportation firm would he hire a candidate w/o transportation experience ? Another example of not bring CEO experience to the job as CT Governor.

    2. It is impossible to reform government agencies where employees know they can’t be fired, demoted or have their pay reduced. While there are good people at the DMV, there are far too many who seem to delight in the misery of citizens.

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